American Univesity of Beirut

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Dear friends and colleagues of the AUB community,  
Website refresh 
An outstanding university deserves to have an outstanding digital presence and I am pleased to note that our website ( is starting a long overdue process of overhaul to make it easier to navigate, easier to promote AUB’s transformative impact, and—crucially nowadays—more readable on mobile phones.  

The project, known as the web refresh, makes its first public showing later today with a new-look homepage, calendar, and events pages. We have adopted an iterative approach to what is a mammoth undertaking, so this first stage will be followed by more roll-outs that will bring new pages into the new look.   
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The next planned iteration will include the faculty homepages reflecting the unique character of each great school, as well as the most heavily visited pages such as Admissions, Registrar, and Libraries. After that the circle will get wider until we encompass the whole domain by the end of 2018.  

With research revealing the AUB domain contains more than 20,000 live pages and 2,200 sites-within-sites, the project leaders in the offices of Communications and IT are counting on AUB’s online stakeholders to give them all the support they need to see through this key assignment.  
In any web relaunch there are inevitably users who prefer the old system and will struggle initially to find their way around. Candidly, we hope there will not be too many of the former, given the site has opportunities for improvement from its current state. We also hope you will find the new functionality, such as mobile responsiveness, video hosting, and being linked to your Outlook calendar, a significant step forward.  

Over the years our digital presence has expanded often with temporary workarounds and ad-hoc solutions. Therefore, this is an excellent opportunity to hone down a lot of sub-optimal content and consolidate with a much more coherent and concise proposition.  

Student successes 

As always at this time of year, our students are engaged in so many outstanding activities that it is hard to keep track. Media studies graduate student Diala Daoud was invited as a finalist in the highly competitive Hult Prize 2017, held at the UN headquarters in New York. Every year, Hult asks students to tackle an international challenge and propose solutions that are both scalable and translatable into sustainable businesses, this year’s challenge being “Refugees: Reawakening Human Potential.” The event, AUB Goes Hult, was voted as one of the top 10 globally, in which Diala and her team managed to attract 66 competition entries.
Four graduate students from OSB, Narine Bolgourjian, Hiba Chehade, Jessica Abou Jaoude and Matt Trotter, reigned supreme in the 2017 University of Munster International Case Competition. The quartet came first among nine universities in a contest where they were given real-world business cases and had to develop and present solutions working against the clock. Meanwhile the AUB Consulting Club participated in the annual Solvers Cup in Budapest as the only team from the Middle East. Although Aman Chaarani, Cesar Bteish, Elie Rizk, and Joseph Matar came home empty handed organizers Case Solvers have invited the club to come back again next year.    
Yesterday, I attended an annual ceremony with the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) to celebrate the achievements of eight undergraduate students on CNRS scholarships along with 13 doctoral scholarship recipients. We have also received the news that three undergraduates, Lama El Katib and Katharine Gordon (FAS) and Georges Khalil (SFEA) were placed in the highly commended category of the global Undergraduate Awards 2017, which judges a paper in their final year course work.    

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Amid the academic success was a summer of sports achievement with a group of elite AUB athletes participating in the Universities World Games in Taipei—Jennifer Rizkallah and Sherif Assi (swimming), Nancy Moumjoghlian and Missak Boyajian (table tennis), and Malek Chatila and Ragheb Raad (athletics). Our women’s volleyball and futsal teams ended their seasons as 2017 champions, and AUB was in the top three for men’s football, junior football, swimming, women’s basketball, table tennis, and rugby league. Toufic El Hage, one of our rugby league stars, is currently representing Lebanon in the Rugby League World Cup in Sydney. Ramzi Yehia won gold at the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Abu Dhabi although he is still only 17 years old. With such role models, it is no surprise this academic year has witnessed an increased number of students enrolled in sports programs, standing just below 500, with a male-to-female ratio of 3:2.  

Congratulations to all of the above, and good luck to four AUBites, Nivine Bachir, Priscilla Elora Sharuk, Lamice Joujou, and Mohamed Watfa, who are getting their just recognition in the field of business as shortlisted candidates in the annual BLC Bank Brilliant Lebanese Awards. You can vote for your favorites in a People’s Choice award. You will also soon have a chance to vote for recent graduate and nanotechnology innovator Fouad Maksoud in the Stars of Science series on LBC.   

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Growing awareness of men’s health 
Against a backdrop where some women’s health issues are deservedly getting more attention through awareness campaigns, such as breast cancer, it should not take away the need to raise awareness for men’s health. Potentially deadly diseases like lung and prostate cancer are a difficult subject to broach for some men and early detection and screening of at-risk groups remain important public health challenges.  

Since the mid-2000s, November has come to be seen as men’s health awareness month around the world, especially with the popularity of the Movember movement in which men are encouraged to grow their moustache as a jocular way of “changing the face of men’s health.” Women can play their part by encouraging the men in their lives to get involved and supporting fundraising and moustache-growing efforts.  

At the instigation of Movember veteran and FHS health communication specialist Dr. Marco Bardus, supported by the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute (NKBCI) and others, this year we are launching the #AUBMovember initiative which is hoped will become an annual focus for fund raising and awareness activities around healthy lifestyles to reduce cancer risk. For example, both men and women participating in Movember can embrace the Commit to the Move challenge, becoming more active and reaching new distances in health promotion.  

The campaign starts with a November 1 community “shave-off” on the West Hall steps and will culminate with a contest for the most impressive and aesthetic moustaches which have sprouted during the month. The event is organized in collaboration with NKBCI, AMALOUNA, Champs Fund, Tobacco-Free AUB, AUB Health and Wellness Center, the Office of Communications, and Student Wellness Outreach at the Office of Student Affairs.   

In addition to the lighthearted grooming opportunities, serious academic work will be done at the first Advanced Prostate Cancer Consensus Conference Middle East Satellite Meeting, co-chaired by Dr. Deborah Mukherji, Dr. Raja Khauli, and Dr. Ali Shamseddine in collaboration with the Lebanese Society of Urology and the Lebanese Society of Medical Oncology. The conference organized by the AUBMC Continuing Medical Education Office will be held November 2-4 and bring together regional experts to establish consensus guidelines for the Middle East to improve the care of patients with advanced prostate cancer. An NKBCI fund-raising dinner to support needy patients will be held after the conference.  

Coincidently, the month sees the Third International Conference on Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking Research held November 10-11 under the title “Translating waterpipe tobacco smoking research evidence into practice, policy and regulation.” It features two outstanding speakers in the field of tobacco research and policy, Dr. Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Professor Emeritus Simon Chapman of the University of Sydney. The meeting further strengthens AUB’s place at the heart of the campaign against the spread of the waterpipe, which is so concerning for the long-term health of the women and men of this region.   

Best regards, 

Fadlo R. Khuri, MD

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